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Any collision between Top 10 light heavyweights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship takes on added importance now that Jon Jones has vacated his title and departed the division. Case in point: Anthony Smith vs. Aleksandar Rakic in the UFC Fight Night 175 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Smith has transformed himself from journeyman to contender since he put down roots at 205 pounds a little more than two years ago. However, he enters the cage on the heels of a brutal technical knockout loss to Glover Teixeira in which he absorbed 138 significant strikes across four-plus rounds in May. Rakic, meanwhile, finds himself on the rebound after his run of consecutive victories was snapped at 12 in a contentious split decision defeat to Volkan Oezdemir at UFC Fight Night 165 on Dec. 21. It marked just the third time in the American Top Team rep’s career that he had gone the distance.
As Smith and Rakic approach their high-stakes showdown, a look at some of the numbers that have accompanied them to this point:
32: Years of age for Smith, who was born on July 26, 1988 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
22: Seconds needed for Smith to waylay Mike George at a Tri-State Cage Fights show on April 17, 2010. It remains the fastest recorded finish of his 48-fight career.
2: Regional championships on the Smith mantle. “Lionheart” captured titles in the Cage Fury Fighting Championships and Victory Fighting Championship organizations.
18: Smith victories by knockout or technical knockout, accounting for 55 percent of his career total (33). His victims include former UFC champions Mauricio Rua and Rashad Evans, onetime Bellator MMA titleholder Hector Lombard and “The Ultimate Fighter 23” winner Andrew Sanchez.
5: Post-fight bonuses pocketed by Smith in his 13 appearances under the UFC banner. He has been awarded “Performance of the Night” four times and “Fight of the Night” once, resulting in $250,000 of additional income.
28: Years of age for Rakic, who was born in Vienna on Feb. 6, 1992.
7: First-round stoppage wins on the Rakic resume, accounting for more than half of his career total (12). The include two sub-minute finishes, as he punched out Martin Batur 26 seconds into their encounter at Austrian Fight Challenge 1 in 2015 and cut down Jimi Manuwa with a head kick 42 seconds into their pairing at UFC Fight Night 153 in 2019.
1: Rakic win by submission. He put away Peter Rozmaring with a north-south choke in just 92 seconds at a Vendetta event in his native Austria in July 2013.
92: Significant strikes by which Rakic outlanded Justin Ledet in his lopsided unanimous decision win over the former heavyweight at UFC Fight Night 134. He drew 30-24, 30-24 and 30-25 marks from the judges in one of the biggest blowouts of 2018.
6: Countries in which Rakic has competed as a professional mixed martial artist, but despite having been on the UFC roster for nearly three years, he has never fought in the United States. He has gone 7-0 in Austria, 2-1 in Germany, 1-0 in Sweden, 1-0 in Canada, 1-0 in the Netherlands and 0-1 in South Korea.
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